The “next man up” philosophy was on display on Sunday afternoon in Hamilton.
Missing Max Jones, Owen MacDonald, Brandon Crawley and Tyler Parsons from their line-up did nothing to slow down the London Knights as they went into Hamilton and blew out the Bulldogs 7-2 at the First Ontario Centre.
London head coach, Dale Hunter said that it was a positive to see the way players stepped up into new roles.
“Injuries are going to happen in hockey. (Max Jones) and (Brandon Crawley) are part of the power play and penalty killing units and it gives other kids opportunities to play in those spots. Johnson was very good for Parsons in net. A game like this shows you have players coming up who can play well.”
Sam Miletic put a carbon copy on his stat line from Friday as he scored two more goals, one just 32 seconds into the game and another on a first period penalty shot. Miletic also dribbled a puck underneath Hamilton goalie, Kaden Fulcher in the second period for what could have been a hat trick, only the play was reviewed and the goal was disallowed after it was determined that the Knights had come into the Hamilton zone offside.
“It went into the net and it would have been nice to get, but this game was about getting the win and that’s what we were able to do,” said the second year Knight after the game.
Janne Kuokkanen scored the first of his two on the day as he finished off a breakaway through the legs of Fulcher after stealing the puck at his blue line in the first period.
Victor Mete put the Knights up 4-0 on a power play early in the second period as he zipped in from the left point and Cliff Pu put the puck right onto his stick. Mete now has five goals on the year.
Cole Tymkin showed off a perfect example of unselfishness on London’s fifth goal as he took a pass from Evan Bouchard and cut across the slot. Tymkin had an open look at the net for a shot of his own, but spotted Kuokkanen at the side of the Hamilton goal and set up the Oulunsalo native for a six-inch tap-in for his fifth goal of the year to make it 5-0 for the Knights.
That unselfishness was rewarded by the hockey gods in the third period as a nice, big rebound bounced right to Tymkin to the right side of the Hamilton net and he popped it in for his first goal in the OHL. (Tymkin had been credited with a goal earlier in the season, but it was changed to Victor Mete after the play was re-examined by the league)
Hamilton showed some push-back midway through the third, getting a goal from Justin Lemcke and then getting another one on a power play from Brandon Saigeon to make it 6-2. That goal ended a string of 20 consecutive successful penalty kills by the Knights.
Cliff Pu added a final goal on a London power play at 18:03 of the third period to close out the scoring and polish off three wins in four days for London.
Kuokkanen led the way offensively with a goal and two assists. Pu had a goal and an assist and so did Tymkin, who added a fight to his totals for an old fashioned Gordie Howe hat trick.
The Bulldogs wore pink uniforms and auctioned them off after the game in support of the fight against breast cancer.
The Knights now sit one point behind four teams for first overall and one of those teams, the Soo Greyhounds, will be at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night at 7:30. London will host Sarnia on Saturday at at 7:00.